Working on tattoo

Artist Lucas Eagleton works on a full-color tattoo of bur oak leaves and acorns for client Mary Cyrus on Friday during the Harvest Moon Tattoo Expo at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center.

Dozens of men and women covered head to toe in ink walked through the doors of the Embassy Suits by Hilton Denton Convention Center. The sound of buzzing tattoo guns filled the room and a sea of colored hair and piercings crowded around dark colored booths. Many were watching popular artists give people their fifth, 10th or even 50th tattoo.

The city of Denton hosted its first Harvest Moon Tattoo Expo over the weekend, and saw more than 100 artists both local and national.

“At least 30 are from out of town, which is about 25% of our tattoo artists,” said Bethany Brockett, tattoo artist at Driftwood Studio in Denton, on Friday. “We have about 120 artists throughout the weekend.”

Many artists came from all over the country to show their skill, as well as attract business.

“We wanted to come and show off some of our work,” said Dalton Derks, tattoo apprentice at Dark Mark in Mansfield. “We’re more of a generalist shop and we can take care of almost anything anybody wants.”

Several of the artists would offer free merchandise, candy and games to people attending or sell other products from their stores.

Along with vendors, the convention also included events such as tattoo contests. Contestants strutted on stage, displaying their arms, legs and other various tattooed body parts to be judged by local tattoo shop owners and employees.

“People enter in some sort of complete tattoo that they have on their body,” said Brockett. “The judges will score them on the basis of anything and everything, such as the line work and creativity.”

Contest categories included Strangest, Job Stopper, Japanese, Texas Themed and many more. Hand-sculpted trophies by Adrian Novo were awarded to first-, second- and third-place contestants.

Some of the placing tattoos included an alien slurping up pizza, a temple surrounded by flowers and another described as “Sailor Moon meets He-Man.”

“I was really impressed with that last girl,” said Brandon Smith, contest judge and artist at Classic Tattoo in San Marcos. “I liked that Texas pin-up meets alien design, it was really well done and the colors were super sharp. It was very well executed.”

Winner of the Japanese-themed tattoo contest, Ray Corson, explains the inspiration for her dragon tattoo.

“I went to Scott Ellis in Austin, he works at Triple Crown Tattoo,” said Corson. “I just knew that I wanted something that looked tough and he was really good at Japanese styles. In the West, dragons are seen as a destructive force, but in Asian culture they’re wise, peaceful beings.”

Themes of the tattoo contests changed each day with new judges, including special contests such as “Tattoo of the Day” where judges decided the best tattoo that was started and finished that same day, and a final “Best of Show” at the end of the weekend.

“We’re so excited to be part of it,” said Donna Joseph, expo host. “We’re just making sure the staff, the tattoo artists are taken care of and everyone’s having a good time watching people get tattooed.”

SOPHIE MONCALEANO can be reached via Twitter at @sophieclarinet.

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